What is Forgiveness?

( [email protected] ) Mar 02, 2010 02:13 PM EST

Colossians 1:1-23

[Jesus] . . . in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (v. 14)

The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as “to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offence or debt.” Good sounding words, but what exactly does that mean? Most of us have some understanding of forgiveness, but is it an understanding that affects our lives? Does it impact those around us? Does it draw us closer into relationship with Jesus?

Our culture has reduced the “apology” into a justification for wrongdoing. Politicians regularly appear on television to apologize for “errors in judgment.” Sins are airbrushed as “mistakes.” A quick “I’m sorry” and everyone is expected to overlook the offense and carry on with life. And often that is what happens.

A biblical understanding of forgiveness, however, will deeply influence our actions and relationships. Forgiveness, according to Scripture, demands that we look squarely at our sins and assume full responsibility for our actions. Only then can we ask God to forgive us. We, in turn, have the responsibility to do likewise when we are sinned against. C. S. Lewis writes, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Faith is living with the understanding of how much Christ has forgiven us, then turning around and forgiving someone else. It’s not easy, not by a long shot, but it is life-giving, God-honoring, work. Is there someone you need to forgive today?

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for forgiving us. Give us the strength to do the same.

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